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A traditional Venezuelan breakfast dish, pisca andina is a type of simple cheesy potato soup that uses cilantro. Most common in the Andes mountain region, pisca andina is said to offer a warming solution to chilly mornings. Usually simple to make, this soup generally uses few ingredients and is often served with arepas, a type of corn tortilla.
Pisca andina normally uses chicken stock or broth for its liquid base, but water can be used instead. Onions, garlic, and cilantro are added for seasoning. Milk and cheese help to make the soup creamy, and potatoes add a filling heartiness. More complex recipes will add toasted white bread, chives, and red pepper. Occasionally, egg may be included as well.
Although the onions are usually diced or chopped, the garlic in pisca andina is always crushed. Crushing garlic may be done with a special utensil called a garlic press or simply with the back of a large spoon. Garlic should always be peeled before crushing.
To make pisca andina, the potatoes are diced, placed in the broth, and allowed to cook until soft. Then, the onions and garlic are sautéed, usually in butter, and added to soup. Afterward, the soup is simmered and reduced, to help thicken it and increase the flavor. Once reduced, the pisca andina is no longer allowed to boil, and the milk and cheese are included. Salt, pepper, and cilantro are usually added to taste as well.
Some recipes may simply add all the vegetables and herbs to the broth immediately, allowing everything to cook together. If eggs are included, they are added near the end of the cooking process. The eggs are carefully added, so they don't break up, and are spooned whole into the serving bowls. Usually one egg is added to each bowl.
If bread is used, it is usually cut into cubes. Once cut, the cubes are often toasted in butter. The pieces are then generally stirred into the soup with the milk and cheese.
Cilantro is always included in pisca andina, usually to taste. Like the milk and cheese, it is added at the end of the cooking process. Though it is often mixed in, it may also serve as a garnish and simply be placed on top of the soup once the pisca andina is in individual bowls. Sour cream may also be used as garnish. Pisca andina is often served in earthenware bowls because the better heat retention helps keep the soup warm in the cold morning air.
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